OFFICE of SURFACE MINING
RECLAMATION and ENFORCEMENT

U.S. Department of the Interior

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APPALACHIAN REGIONAL REFORESTATION INITIATIVE


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Restoring the Appalachians many Coal-Mined Lands to Create Habitat and Protect Imperiled Birds

ARRI and the Appalachian Mountains Joint Venture (AMJV) are partnering up to re-establish habitat on previously mined land to create greater breeding grounds for declining bird species in the Appalachian Region. Using ARRI’s Forestry Reclamation Approach, this collaboration is replanting trees on disturbed sites in heavily populated bird areas to restore the function and form of habitats that existed prior to mining.

Such restoration efforts will benefit many of the AMJV’s priority bird species that use mature forests, early successional habitat, shrublands, and other environments for breeding and foraging. For example, the imperiled Golden-winged Warbler relies heavily on young forests that can be created through efforts such as tree plantings. While a plummeting Cerulean Warbler population will benefit from greater amounts of mature, deciduous forests that this collaboration can re-establish over time on mined lands. 

AMJV and partner agencies are identifying the best areas for ARRI to focus reforestation efforts to provide the greatest return on conservation investments. AMJV is also developing bird habitat objectives, providing expertise on habitat needs for priority species, and communicating results and success stories for these projects.

Why: The Appalachian Mountains are a hotspot for extractive energy activity and supply a large amount of coal to the rest of the nation. Once an area has been extracted of all its coal, the resulting reclaimed land is sometimes highly compacted and replanted with aggressive vegetative ground covers - conditions that are detrimental to tree survival and growth. But through reforestation and forest management, forest stands can be re-established on these lands to provide functional habitat for birds and wildlife.

In Addition: By creating habitat for imperiled bird species, this collaboration will enhance other U.S. conservation initiatives. One in particular is the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Working Lands for Wildlife.  This program targets conservation efforts on private rural lands – such as those owned by energy companies - to reverse population declines of seven species including the Golden-winged Warbler. The AMJV and ARRI have worked with partners at the University of Tennessee to already develop management and restoration guidelines for creating Golden-winged Warbler habitat on mined lands.

The collaboration is also doing its part in an international effort to protect migratory birds. Many priority birds that breed in the Appalachians winter in portions of Mexico and Central and South America. A leading cause of deforestation in this part of the world is the expansion of coffee farms. Conservation organizations are promoting shade grown coffee as a sustainable alternative to protect forests and the species that are dependent upon them. So whereas coal-mined lands are reforested in the eastern U.S., shade grown coffee farms are being established in Latin America and both initiatives are helping to conserve imperiled birds throughout their range.

How to Participate:  We invite the public to visit the AMJV at www.amjv.org to get the latest information on priority bird species, conservation issues, and ongoing projects. Colleagues in the Appalachian bird conservation community can join our mailing list and become a member of our site to contribute news, data, and project information. They can also participate in a data sharing and mapping tool that allows members to effectively document and track habitat work and bird surveys.

For further information visit:

Mine land Reforestation for Appalachia’s Wildlife: Resources for Landowners

Flight 93 Memorial Site Habitat Restoration Video

Memorandum Of Understanding between the American Bird Conservancy and the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement

Smithsonian Shade Grown Coffee Page

Golden-winged Warbler Rangewide Breeding Grounds Conservation Plan

Golden-winged Warbler Working Group Page



The Appalachian Mountains Joint Venture is a bird-habitat partnership that coordinates action among various partners to design and implement effective conservation projects for imperiled native bird species

 


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